Malawi to rehabilitate Kamuzu barrage at K15 billion

The Kamuzu barrage in southern Malawi’s district of Machinga will undergo a $39.6 million (about k15.8bn) upgrade next year.

The rehabilitation of the barrage is part of the Shire River Basin Management (SRBMP) Program from early next year which will see the facility playing a greater role in flood and water management in the Shire river basin.

The rehabilitation works on the structure makes it a major projects component in the $145.6 million World Bank and Malawi Government funded project which seeks to improve among others the water control capacity in the shire river to reduce flooding occurrences that have become perennial in most parts of the Shire river.

The upgraded barrage facility will also monitor the river’s water levels and form part of the early warning mechanism to people living within the river’s catchment area.

Kamuzu Barrage to undergo rehabilitation
Kamuzu Barrage to undergo rehabilitation

“The upgraded Barrage will be fitted with computerised gates that will regulate how much water will be allowed down the river, unlike the current manual facility that has posed a challenge to electricity generation due to challenges in water regulation,” SRBMP Principal Hydrologist Sydney Kantukule told Malawi News Agency on Tuesday.

Kuntukule was briefing the media who are on a day long World Bank training workshop organised in collaboration with the Association of Environmental Journalists and Ministry of Information District Information.

“It will also have the water retention capacity raised to 40 centimetres that will enable the refurbished structure to capture more water,” Kuntukule said.

He said people living in the river’s catchment districts should expect a real time early warning system as the facility will be automated to generate water level data faster that the current one.

The Hydrologist further explained that the barrage will also improve the weed management system which has been a great challenge in hydro power generation initiatives on the river for a long time.

“Companies like the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi have had to invest heavily in weeds management though the current barrage which was in place. But if the facility is upgraded, it has the capacity to manage the challenge and cut down the cost,” according to Kantukule who also said the new look Kamuzu barrage will have a new road lane in addition to a pedestrians and cyclists track.

He went on to say that due to its magnitude, the Kamuzu barrage refurbishment attracts huge investments requiring a huge chunk of project budget allocation compared to the rest of the components in the project.

The Malawi Government is expected to pump into the refurbishment works close to $9.2 million representing a 23.2 percent of the barrage’s expenditure allocation while World Bank will allocate $30.4 million representing a 76.8 percent to the Kamuzu barrage upgrade.

In total, the SRBMP program it expected to cost the WB and the Government of Malawi $145.6 million.

The Kamuzu barrage became functional in 1965, a year after the country attained her independence.

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